And what seemed like the next I was sitting in an ugly living room in our Wimpy House (ex show house) in Emmer Green, Reading.
What an oases in a veritable Garden of Eden. It was not a pretty sight nor was it a very exciting or fun sort of place. It was a sort of suburb on the outskirt of town and with an erratic bus service and out of date timetable.
It was the sort of place that at that time was not a real suburb but also not country somewhere in between, a sort of nowhere place. The only shops were a newsagent’s and a small sub post office and a fish and chip shop.
Apart from the chicken shit tractor, which was the other most exciting event on the new estate. We were only 30 minutes by car from the town centre of Reading but it seemed like light years away once we had moved in to our lovely new wimpy house.
Going into Reading town centre became practically as exciting as going up to London but then only as far as logistics of getting there as although we were so close if you just missed a bus you could sometimes wait up to 40 minutes for another bus into town.
I remember sitting on that Cascade veranda with our Dalmatian dog Peggy and listening to the steel bands practicing for carnival. Evening after evening hearing them tuning their pans and going over and over the same tune. Very exciting especially when carnival time really is close, as you can feel it in the atmosphere.
The parties are getting more in number and suddenly it’s there everyone is happy as there are lots of parties and a great time had by all ending up on carnival Monday when everyone follows the bands and jumps up in the street.
In town the major concert will be the dogs all barking at each other as soon as it get as dark for at least a few hours when they finally do other important things like endlessly grooming themselves and each other.
Devalli is another beautiful memory the whole place lit up. Although an Indian festival, a lot of people join in by lighting candles on their veranda’s same at other times and of course kids especially enjoying celebrating Christmas several times as the adults obviously enjoyed several new year’s eve parties.
Getting a takeaway was different too we used to go out down to the savannah and getting a roti with potato curry. There were wonderful Indian women sitting with charcoal braziers and big iron griddles cooking roti’s to order.
There were also curry houses of all shapes and sizes where you could buy also hang and eat your roti. Some no matter how small had a couple of private rooms basically a couple of booths created with hardboard or curtains.
Every weekend we went to visit an aunt Jo and uncle Keith in San Fernando and ate with the family, as there were nine kids that meant quite a crowd. Often also their friends would be there so Sunday lunch was a busy and popular time.
When one of my cousins got married, her and her bloke just moved down the hill at the back of the house and built their house there. Then it was even more fun going to visit as there were now two houses to run in and out of, and have fun in.
My other cousin Aileen told me in 1997 that my mother had been a big role model where household presentation was concerned. She always admired how my mother had laid the table, especially for special diners. She said she thought it was very stylish and she took it all in, candles and all. Years later I found myself in Aileen's dining room thinking that it all looked strangely familiar. It was it was pure Erika style.
One time dad tried to kill a chicken for Sunday lunch and it did not quite go as planned. Instead of catching the chicken quickly from behind he turned it into a race round the yard, as he sprinted behind a chicken finally grabbing the bird and put its head under a box, then he cut off the head.
My dad was better at catching crabs in the car headlights on the way home along the coast road. The he always had a big pan with lid in the boot the crab would be thrown in the pan. At home dad would make crab and callaloo, this is a delicious crab and spinach dish.
The best coast road near home was the one, which ran through the American base. You could use the beaches on the base but had to queue up for a permit to drive through to the beach. When you got to the top of the queue you were looked over, so was your family and anyone in your car, sometimes they might want to look at what you had with you.
Nevertheless dad caught his best crabs along that road, he also enjoyed it more. Quite often telling outrageous stories about the car suddenly cutting out and not being able to start until now. ‘‘Well what do you know! Fancy that suddenly the car is going again”
My mum was abit odd about the food, she was abit suspicious which is funny given what she must have ate during and after the war. She always worried that she would get cockroaches in the Chinese food.
One time when we were round to dinner at auntie Gussie and uncle Edgar, auntie had made curried agouti, a type of mongoose, my mum could not eat it she felt unwell at the thought of it. Not me I enjoyed it, as did the others.
One day when mum was first in Trinidad and they were still staying with auntie Gussie and uncle Edgar, she got a package from Germany, in it a precious servalat worst (German type of salami). She hung it up somewhere safe, meaning to enjoy eating the odd slice here and there, while thinking about Germany with painful nostalgia.
Then the very next day she is woken up by the smell of something frying, drawn by the smell my mother goes to the kitchen to find auntie Gussie saying ‘’hello darling you have caught me out trying to surprise you by making breakfast” she also adds that she is looking forward to trying this strange German sausage she is cooking.
This is when my mother shrieks as she realizes she has cooked her servalat worst. Oh horror especially as she has been waiting for months for this special treat. I bet she went off and had a good cry about the loss of her servalat worst and the reckless behavior of Gussie who obviously knew nothing frying a servalat worst.